King Diamond

L'Olympia, Montreal QC, October 17

Photo: Gil Nault

BY Ralph ElawaniPublished Oct 18, 2014

Card-carrying member of the Church of Satan King Diamond hit L'Olympia's stage after the rise of a Baphomet and the lighting of inverted crosses. Opening the set with the classic first track of his 1986 album Fatal Portrait, "The Candle," Diamond's signature falsetto took time to be heard clearly, thanks to the rickety sound balance; the full-capacity venue did not seem to care much. Devout fans — most of them in King Diamond apparel or full Mercyful Fate ephemera — took over vocal duties and howled with the man on the do-not-call list of the Vatican, while he stalked the stage and pointed his femur/tibia-boned mic handle to the crowd.

The group then tore into the 1989 single "Sleepless Night." Diamond, whose 2010 triple-bypass surgery did not seem to have affected his stage persona, took a second to address the multitudes: "It's been fucking long… did you miss Grandma?" before introducing Grandma (a character one wouldn't want to touch with a 10-foot pole) for "Welcome Home." With Diamond's wife Livia Zita on backup vocals, the family portrait was almost complete.

By that point, the sound appeared to have been properly calibrated. Black-hooded stage techs proceeded to remove the gates that kept the ghoulish performer from the infidels. More stage props (shovel, candles, cane, etc.) appeared as the backdrop changed from the stony walls of a cathedral to a large photo of King Diamond. The tales of terrors, which consisted of a fair amount of material from the groups' three decade-long career kept coming while King air riffed to axeman Andy Larocque's shredding.

"Never Ending Hill," "The Puppet Master" (props to the living doll brought to life by King's spells!) and "At the Graves" followed. The most remarkable part of the show was soon introduced by the rhetorical question: "Do you have dark feelings inside? Then you can come to the Sabbath!" The classic Mercyful Fate track had the house singing along: "Come, come to the Sabbath."

However, early technical issues foreshadowed bigger problems and paled in comparison to the power blowout that affected the last portion of the set, which ultimately required the band to leave for a moment. The group took a few minutes and returned to the stage. Perversely touching, Diamond apologized: "The P.A. went out. Sorry, this happens sometimes."

More prominent stage theatrics helped make the encore the set's climax. In a snazzy clin d'oeil to Alice Cooper/Coven/Screaming Lord Sutch's eccentric legacy, Grandma was brought in again, to be cremated by a doctor and a priest (the latter comically refused to shake Diamond's hand) during the group's rendition of the 1989 instrumental track "Cremation."

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